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Full text of "Shells and decoration : an exhibition at the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration, Cooper Square and Seventh Street, November 19th through December 24th, 1940"







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SHELLS AND 
DECORATION 




AN EXHIBITION AT THE COOPER UNION 
MUSEUM FOR THE ARTS OF DECORATION 
COOPER SQUARE AND SEVENTH STREET, 
NOVEMBER 19th THROUGH DECEMBER 24th, 
1940 



^RARIES 



SHELLS AND DECORATION 

THERE IS MUCH IN THE NATURE OF SHELLS 
to capture the imagination. The variety of forms, the endless combinations and 
patternings of colors, the durability of the material, have appealed to artists and 
craftsmen throughout the ages. The Museum's exhibition calls attention to some 
representative uses to which shells and their attributes have been applied; it 
makes no claim to completeness, but aims to provoke an increased interest in the 
shell as an element in decorative art. 

"Shell," as here used, refers to the outer covering of animals called moUusks 
which live in the sea, in fresh water, and on the land. Formed of lime secreted 
by the moUusk, the shell in practically all instances is an external skeleton that 
shields the soft body of the animal within. Very few of the eighty thousand 
species known to science have found their way into the decorative arts. The 
layman recognizes them as belonging to one of two groups: univalves, such as 
the cowry, conch, nautilus, and snail; or bivalves, as represented by scallops, 
oysters, and clams. 

A distinction may be made between the uses of shells themselves, and the 
application of their forms in design. As a medium for primitive craftsmen, 
they have been used throughout the world. The Aurignacians of France probably 
were the first to use them, for necklaces and armlets which appear to date back 
25,000 years. Of less antiquity but equal interest are the carved and worked 
ornaments unearthed in Tennessee, Texas, and the highlands of Mexico. The 
manufacture of wampum for money and mnemonic beadwork was once a 
flourishing native industry along the Atlantic coast, particularly in the environs 
of New York. A number of articles in the exhibition reveal a striking affinity 



between the shell ornaments of the Pacific Islands and the costume jewelry on 
display along Fifth Avenue. Not only primitives and moderns have recognized 
the suitability of shell as a material. Adornments from Egyptian tombs, nautilus 
cups from Renaissance Italy, and domes of artificial flowers from our own 
Victorian parlors testify to that. 

The other side of the picture concerns the conversion of the shell form, or 
its elements, into painted, carved, woven, or other adaptations. An early and 
common example is the argonaut emerging from the shell, as depicted upon 
Minoan pottery. Another illustration is furnished by the distinctive volute of 
the Ionic capital, which has been shown to have a relationship to the three- 
dimensional spiral of the whelk. It has been demonstrated that without geo- 
metrical instruments, this volute can be drawn by a pencil attached to the free 
end of an unwinding cord wrapped in the spiral of the slowly rotating shell. 

The most marked development in the use of the shell as a motif originated 
in France during the eighteenth century, when the rococo style grew out of the 
heavy baroque. The conventionalized curves of the shell served as a basic model 
for the extravagant and playful lines that characterize the rococo. A specific 
term, coquillage, was coined to designate this influence upon the decoration of the 
times. From picture frames to coaches, jewels to fountains, no article upon which 
ornament could be expended escaped this imaginative adaptation of the shell. 

What place has our subject in the world of today? Let us remember that in 
the evolution of ceramic wares, the whiteness of the porcellana cowry of Italy 
offered a long unattainable goal for color, texture, and delicacy. So today it 
seems that new materials, new techniques, and a new concept of design should 
bring out qualities in shells which never have been adequately expressed. The 
Museum's exhibition presents a number of modern articles in a variety of 
materials, with the desire that they may suggest new possibilities for decorative 
art and personal adornment. 



SELECTED REFERENCES 

in the Museum Library on the Subject 
of the Exhibition 



Adams, Henry Gardiner. Beautiful shells; 
their nature, structure, and uses familiarly ex- 
plained . . . London, Groombridge and sons, 
1856. xvi, 78p. illus., 8 col. pi. 16mo. 

Albertolli, Giocondo. Ornamenti diversi, 
inventati, disegnati ed esiguiti da Giocondo 
Albertolli. Milano, Albertolli [1782] 24 (i.e. 
22) pi. F. 

PI. 2, 9, 11, 19. 

Alder, Joshua. A monograph of the British 
nudibranchiate mollusca. London, Printed for the 
Ray society, 1845-55. 2v. plates (part col.) F. 

The Arms of the peers, peeresses, &c. of Eng- 
land, Scotland, and Ireland. London, J. Stock- 
dale, 1805. 60, 32 [12} p. of illus. 24mo. 

Pages 7, 12, 15; 2, 4, 8, 10, 17, 18, 21, 23, 
24, 25, 28. App. 2, 3. 

Arrivet, J. Cartels, cadres, ornements; style 
Louis XV, par Arrivet, Babel, Choffard, etc. Paris, 
Guerinet [n.d.} 42 pi. F. 

No text. Numerous examples of use of the 
coquille. 

Artinano y Galdocano, Pedro. Cat61ogo de 
la exposicion de orfebreria civil espanola. Mad- 
rid, Mateu, 1925. I63p. 42 pi. F. 
Plate showing Majorcan silver. 

Ball, Katherine M. Decorative motives of ori- 
ental art, London, J. Lane; New York, Dodd, 
Mead [1927] xxvi, 286p. illus. F. 

A brief notice on the occurrence of moUusks 
in oriental art, p. 185-188. 

Bapst, Germain. Etudes sur I'orfevrerie fran- 
gaise au xviiie siecle . . . Paris, Rouam, 1887. 
xxxi, 254p. front., illus., 5 pi. 8vo. 

Berain, Jean, fits. Ornemens de peinture et de 
sculpture, qui sont dans la Galerie d'Apollon, 
au Chateau du Louvre, et dans le grand apparte- 
ment de roy, au Palais des Tuilleries. [Paris] 
Scotin, 1710. 29 pi. F. 

Berling, Karl. Das Meissner porzellan und 
seine geschichte. Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1900. xvii, 
21 Ip. illus., plates, tables. F. 

Plates 4, 6, 18-20, 25. Figs. 18, 44, 100, 102-6, 
127, 153-4. 



BiNSTEAD, Herbert Ernest. Useful details in 
several styles. New York, Lane, 1907. I44p. 
illus. 4to. 

No text. Many illustrations of development in 
use of couqillage. 

[Blason, ou art heraldique. n.p., n.d.] 32 en- 
graved pi. F. 

Contains illustrations of the Ordre de St. 
Michel (pi. 23, no. 43) and the Ordre deNavire 
(pi. 26, no. 73). See also plates 4, 7, 11. 

Blondel, Jacques Francois. De la distribution 
des maisons de plaisance, et de la decoration des 
edifices en general. Paris, Jombert, 1737-8. 2v. 
front., 155 pi., plans, diagrs. 4to. 

Noted by Rouaix as an important employer of 
the coquille. 

Burlington Fine Arts Club, London. Ex- 
hibition of a collection of silversmiths' work of 
European origin. London, Printed for the Bur- 
lington fine arts club, 1901. Ivii, 185p. 120 pi. F. 
Plates 43, 76, 109. 

Burton, William. Josiah Wedgwood and his 
pottery. New York, Funk & Wagnalls ; London, 
Cassell, 1922. xii, 195p. col. front., 104 pi. (32 
col.) 4to. 

Text p. 51. Plates facing p. 12, 14, 26, 52, 54, 
94. 

Chaffers, William. The new keramic gallery, 
containing seven hundred illustrations of rare, 
curious and choice examples of pottery and por- 
celain from early times to the beginning of the 
twentieth century . . . [3d ed., rev. & enl.] Lon- 
don, Reeves and Turner, 1926. 2v. col. fronts., 
illus., plates (part col.) 4to. 

Figs. 132, 142, 146, 161-2, 182, 243, 524, 
528-9, 595-6, 600. 

Cuvillies, Francois de, pere. [Recueil des 
dessins. Paris, 1745-56] 247 pi., plans. F. 

Dambreville, Etienne. Abrege chronologique 
de I'histoire des ordres de chevalerie . . . Paris, 
Hacquart, 1807. xxxii, 368p. 28 pi. 8vo. 

For accounts of the Ordre du Navire and of 
St. Jacques de la Coquille see p. 98-100. Plate 
vi facing p. 97. 

Decorations chinoises et de gout chinois. 2e. 
serie. Paris, Guerinet [n.d.] 64 (i.e. 32) pi. F. 
No text. Plates 51-2, 55-6. 



Decorations japonaises, chinoises et de gout 
chinois. 3e. serie. Paris, Gu^rinet [n.d.] 32 pi. F. 
No text. Genuine Japanese motives, not 
French interpretations. 

Decorative scutcheons, keys, screws, rosettes, 
[n.p., n.d.] 117 pi. 8vo. 
No text. 

Dekay, James E. Zoology of New York, or the 
New York fauna . . . Part v. Mollusca. Albany, 
Carroll & Cook, 1843. 271p. 40 col. pi. 4to. 
(Natural history of New York, pt. 1, Zoology) 

Delafosse, Jean Charles. Nouvelle icono- 
logie historique, ou attributs hierogliphyques, 
qui ont pour objets les quatre elemens, les quatre 
saisons, les quatres parties du monde et les dif- 
ferentes complexions de I'homme . . . Paris, 
Chereau, 1771. various paging. 107 pi. F. 
PI. G2, J3, Ml. 

Heme recueil de I'oeuvre 

de Jean Charles Delafosse, architecte, decorateur, 
et professeur de dessin. Paris, 1770. 152 pl. F. 
Title page, pl. 11, 17, 20, 21, 24-5, 32, 59, 
64, 71, 94, 117, 140. 

DoLMETSCH, Heinrich. Anthologie de I'orne- 
ment. Paris, Guerinet [n.d.] lOOp. illus., 100 pl. 
(part col.) F. 

Plates 61-2, 80, 88, 90. P. 89. 

Der ornamentenschatz ; ein 

musterbuch stilvoller ornamente aus alien kunst- 
epochen. Stuttgart, Hoffman, 1887. 85p. 85 pl. 
(part col.) F. 
Plates 56-7, 75, 82. 

DuPONT-AuBERVlLLE, L'ornement des tissus; 
recueil historique et pratique. Paris, Ducher, 
1877. 37p., 100 1. 100 col. pl. F. 
Plate 69. 

Encyclopedie ornementale. Paris, Guerinet 
[1898?] 83, 35 pl. F. 

Portfolio of plates. Plates 1-3, 6, 8, 19, 22, 
39-40, 53-55, 63, 65-68. 

Fletcher, Banister. A history of architecture 
on the comparative method. 5th ed., rev. & enl. 
London, Batsford; New York, Scribner, 1905. 
738p. front., illus., plates. 12mo. 

Mentions possible means of forming volutes 
of the Ionic order with aid of whelk shell, pl. 
42 and p. 77. 

Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles. The book of 
public arms ; a cyclopaedia of the armorial bear- 
ings, heraldic devices, and seals, as authorized 
and as used, of the counties, cities, towns, and 
universities of the United Kingdom. Edinburgh, 
Jack, 1894. 57p. 130pl. 4to. 
Plates 9, 14, 42, 61, 91. 



Gardner, John Starkie, ed. Old silver-work, 
chiefly English, from the xvth to the xviiith cen- 
turies ; a catalogue of the unique loan colleaion 
exhibited in 1902 at St. James's court, London. 
London, Batsford; New York, Buckley, 1903. 
xiv, 198p. 121 pl. F. 

Plates 4, 5, 11, 25, 59, 88, 91, 112, 117, 119. 

GiLLOT, Claude. Nouveau livre de principes 
d'ornements, particuliSrement pour trouver un 
nombre infini de formes que en dependent. Paris, 
Guerinet [n.d.] 55 pl. F. 

No text. A number of plates demonstrate ro- 
coco forms of coquillage. 

Oeuvre de Claude GiUot, 

natif de Langres. [Paris] Huquier [17-?] front, 
(pon.) 14 pl. F. 
Bound with this is Watteau. Oeuvre. 

Guerin, Jacques. La chinoiserie en Europe au 
xviiie siecle. Paris, Librairie centrale des beaux- 
arts, 1911. 8p. 80 pl. F. 

Plates 10, 11, 25, 31, 36, 49, 65. 

GuiCHARD, Edouard. Dessins de decoration des 
principaux maitres. Paris, Quantin, 1881. 23p. 
40 pl. F. 

Plates 2, 9, 12, 24, 27, 32. 

Hannover, Emil. Pottery & porcelain, a hand- 
book for collectors. London, Benn, 1925. 3v. 
illus., col. plates. 4to. 

V.l, figs. 27, 364, 397, 434, 498, 545-6, 548, 
584, 592, 649, 681-2. V.3, figs. 39, 101, 110, 113, 
385, 420, 585, 593, 644, 783. 

Havard, Henry. Dictionnaire de I'ameublement 
et de la decoration depuis le xiiie siecle jusqu'a 
nos jours. Paris, Quantin [1894] 4v. illus., plates 
(part col.) F. 
See articles on "Coquille" and "Rocaille." 

Holmes, William H. Art in shell of the ancient 
Americans. (In U. S. Bureau of American eth- 
nology. Annual report, 1880/81. "Washington, 
Govt, print, off., 1883. p. 185-305. 56 pl. 4to.) 

Hoppenhaupt, Johann Christian. [Suite de 
douze pieces. Paris, 175-?] 12 pl. F. 

Jackson, John Wilfrid. Shells as evidence of 
the migrations of early culture. Manchester, Uni- 
versity press ; London, New York [etc.] Long- 
mans, 1917. xxvii, 216p. front., illus. (incl. 
maps) plates. 8vo. 

Although Jackson's theory of cultural expan- 
sion is not universally accepted, the data and 
illustrations assembled on the roles of shells in 
various cultures are very informative. 

Jessen, Peter. Der ornamentstich ; geschichte 
der vorlagen des kunsthandwerks seit dem mit- 
telalter. Berlin, Verlag fiir kunstwissenschaft, 
1920. 384p. illus., plates. 8vo. 

Development of shell form into the rococo, 
beginning p. 195. An unusual use of volute shell 
illustrated on p. 26. 



Rococo engraving. London, 

Benn, 1922. 200 pi. F. 

Most of the plates show the coquille in vari- 
ous positions of importance as a decorative ele- 
ment. 

Le style Louis xv. Paris, 

Guerinet [n.d.] 200 pi. F. (Les maitres de I'orne- 
mentation, tome 3) 

Same plates as preceding. 

Knorr, Georg Wolfgang. Les delices des yeux 
et de I'esprit, ou collection generale des dififer- 
entes especes de coquiUage que la mer renferme. 
Nuremberg, 1760-73. 6v. 190 pi. (180 col.) 8vo. 

KuNZ, George Frederick. The book of the 
pearl; the history, art, science, and industry of 
the queen of gems. New York, Century, 1908. 
xix, 548p. col. front., illus., plates, ports. 4to. 
Plates opp. p. 36, 39, 42, 68, 72, 76, 266, 275, 
280, 390, 499. 

La Joue, Jacques de. Reciieil nouveau de dif- 

ferens cartouche. Paris, Guerinet [n.d.] 29 pi. F. 

No text. Highly developed rococo forms. 

Lienard, Michel. Specimens de la decoration et 
de I'ornementation a xixe. siecle. Paris, Claesen 
[1872] 4p. 125 pL F. 

Plates A2, A4, Al5, A25, A28, B8b, B12-13, 
B18A, B25A, B33, ClO. Second empire horribilia. 

Le Luminaire, transformations progressives du 
ier au xixe. siecle. Paris, Rouveyre [n.d.] 80 pi. 
4to. 

No text. Plates 3, 8, 9, 43. 

Marot, Daniel. Werken van D. Marot, opper- 
boumeester van zyne maiesteit Willem den Der- 
den, Koning van Groot Britanje . . . [Amster- 
dam, The author. 1712] 131 pi. F. 
Title page in Dutch and Latin. 

Martyn, William Frederic. A new dictionary 
of natural history, or compleat universal display 
of animated nature with accurate representations 
of the most curious and beautiful animals ele- 
gantly coloured. London, Printed for Harrison 
& CO., 1785. 2v. col. plates. F. 

Mayer, Alfred Goldsborough. Sea-shore life; 
the invertebrates of the New York coast. [New 
York] New York zoological society, 1905. 181p. 
8vo. (New York aquarium nature series, no. 1) 

Meissonier, Juste Aurele. Oeuvre de Juste 
Aurele Meissonier, peintre, sculpteur, architeae 
&c., dessinateur de la chambre du roy. Premiere 
partie, execute sous la conduite de I'auteur. 
Paris, Huquier [1730?] 70 pi., port. F. 

One of the most important colleaions of 
plates of ornament and decoration of the Louis 
XV period. 



Oeuvre de Juste Aurele 

Meissonier; peintre, sculpteur, architeae et des- 
sinateur de la chambre et cabinet du roy. Paris, 
Rouveyre [n.d.] F. 

[Metal work, n.p., n.d.] 65p. of engravings. 
4to. 

Many examples of shell motives. 

MoLiNiER, Emile. Les arts du metal (orfevretie, 
bijouterie, ferronerie, bronze) Paris, Bibliothe- 
que de la Gazette des beaux-arts [1892?] I44p. 
illus. 4to. 

P. 47-8, 50, 73, 78, 87, 111. 

Oppenord, Gille Marie. Oeuvres de Gille 
Marie Oppenord, ecuier, directeur general des 
batiments et jardins de son altesse royale Mon- 
seigneur le due d'Orleans, regent du royaume. 
Contenant differents fragments d'architecture et 
d'ornements, a I'usage des batiments sacrees, 
publics, et particuliers . . . Paris, Huquier 
[1748?] 165 pi. F. 

New York. Museum of Modern Art. Fantas- 
tic art, Dada, Surrealism, edited by Alfred H. 
Barr, Jr. New York, The museum, 1936. 248p. 
incl. illus. 8vo. 

Figs. 33, 172, 369, 679. 

Paramo, Platon. La ceramica antigua de Tal- 
avera. Madrid [Hauser y Menet] 1919. 47p. 20 
pi. 4to. 

Plates 13, 16. 

Pequegnot, Auguste. Album de chemin^es, 
pierre, marbre, bois, etc. de toutes les epoques. 
Paris, Ducher [n.d.] 54 pi. F. 
No text. Plates 32, 35. 

Ornements, vases et decora- 
tions d'apres les maitres. Paris, Ducher [n.d.] 
Plates. F. 
No text. 

Pergolesi, Michel Angelo. Disegni di orna- 
menti. London, 1776. 71 col. pi. F. 
PL 41. 

Perry, George. Conchology, or the natural his- 
tory of shells: containing a new arrangement of 
the genera and species. London, Miller, 1811. 
4p., 62 1. 61 col. pi. F. 

Petrie, Sir W. M. Flinders. Decorative pat- 
terns of the ancient world. London, University 
college, 1930. 16p. Ixxxviii p. of illus. F. 
P. vii-viii. 

Peyrotte, Alexis. Divers ornemens dedi& a 
Monsieur Tanevat, architeae du roi, par son 
t.h.s. Peyrotte. [Paris] Huquier [175-] 18 pi. 
Three diflferent series of 6 plates bound to- 
gether. 



Phillips, Philip A. S. Paul de Lamerie, citizen 
and goldsmith of London; a study of his life and 
work, a.d. 1688-1751. London, Batsford, 1935. 
xvi, 11 5p. front., illus., plates, facsims. F. 
Plates 123, 124, 152, 156, 157. 



PoRTEFEUlLLE des arts decoratifs, pub. sous le 
patronage de I'union centrale des arts decoratifs. 
I.-IO. annee; 1888/89-1897/98. Paris, Calavas 
[1889-98} lOv. 960 pi. 

No text. Plates 8, 11, 18, 22, 83, 302, 395, 
407, 415, 428, 447, 481, 488-9, 569, 603, 609, 
649, 663, 671, 676, 688, 690, 742, 818, 820, 
950-1. 



Racinet, Albert Charles Auguste. L'orne- 
ment polychrome. Paris, Firmin Didot [1873] 
60p., 102 1. 100 col. pi. 
Plates 66, 71, 76-7, 79, 91. 



L'ornement polychrome. Deux- 

ieme serie. Paris, Firmin-Didot [1886-7] 240p. 
illus., 120 col. pi. F. 

Plates 7, 86-8, 99, 106, 111, 115-6. 



Recueil de planches sur les sciences, les arts 
liberaux, et les arts mechaniques, avec leur ex- 
plication. Paris, Briasson, 1742-52. llv.plates. F. 
V.6, plates 64-74. 



Reeve, Lovell. Conchologia systematica, com- 
plete system of conchology. London, Longman, 
1841-2. 2v. illus. 4to. 



Rogers, Julia Ellen. The shell book; a pop- 
ular guide to a knowledge of the families of . . . 
mollusks. New York, Doubleday, 1908. xxi, 
485p. illus., 56 pi. (8 col.) 8vo. 



Rosenberg, Marc. Der goldschmiede merk- 
zeichen; 3. erweit. und. illus. aufl. Frankfurt am 
Main, Frankfurter verlags-anstalt, 1922-28. 4v. 
illus., plates. 8vo. 

V.l, plates 4, 8, 25, 27. 

RouAix, Paul. Dictionnaire des arts decoratifs 
a I'usage des artisans, des artistes, des amateurs 
et des ecoles. Paris, Librairie illustree [n.d.] 
1042p. illus., plates. 4to. 
See articles on "Coquille" and "Rocaille." 



Salembier, Henri. [Cahiers d'orfevrerie et de 
bronze. Paris, Bance, 1807-9] 36 pi. F. 
Pl. 4, 13, 23-4. 

Saly, Jacques Francois. [Vases inventes et 
graves par Jacobus Saly. Paris, 1746] 12 pl. F. 

Seba, Albertus. Locupletissimi rerum natural- 
ium. Thesauri accurata descriptio, et iconibus 
artificiosissimus expressio. Amstelaedami, Jans- 
son-Waesberg, 1734-65. 4v. col. plates. F. 

V.3, plates 35-94. 

A beautiful and rare work. 

Selection of ornaments ... for the use of sculp- 
tors, painters, carvers, modellers. London, Ack- 
erman [1818-19] 80 pl. F. 

No text. Ft. 1, plate 24, pt. 2, plate 17. 

Sowerby, George Brettingham Jr. The con- 
chological illustrations. London, Sowerby, 1841. 
2v. 200 col. pl. 12mo. 
Fine illustrations. 

A conchological manual. 4th 

ed. London, Bohn, 1852. 337p. col. front., illus., 
28 col. pl. 12mo. 

Strange, Thomas Arthur. An historical guide 
to French interiors, furniture, decoration, wood- 
work & allied arts. London, The author [n.d.] 
400p. illus. 4to. 

Contains many examples of use of shell work 
in 17th and 18th century design. 

Veitch, Henry Newton. Sheffield plate, its 
history, manufacture and art. London, Bell, 1908. 
xiv, 359p. incl. illus., 74 pl. 4to. 
Plates p. 99, 121, 142, 173. 

Verneuil, Maurice Pillard. Etoffes japon- 
aises, tissees & brochees. Paris, Librairie centrale 
des beaux-arts [1910] 2v. 80 col. plates. F. 
Plate 26, v.l. 

Waring, Janet. Early American stencils on 
walls and furniture. New York, Scott [cl937] 
148p. illus., plates (part col.) F. 
Figs. 99, 149-51. P. 91, 93, 126 ff., 133. 

Watteau, Antoine. Oeuvre d'Antoine Wat- 
teau, natif de Valenciennes. [Paris] Huquier 
[17-?] 105 pl., port. F. 

Bound with Gillot. Oeuvre. 



Les styles ; 700 gravures clas- 

sees par epoques. Paris, Rouam [1885] 335p. 
illus. F. 

P. 26, 28, 81, 84, 97, 112-3, 115, 120, 204, 
207, 209-10, 217, 227, 239, 248, 269, 272. 



Wenham, Edward. Domestic silver of Great 
Britain and Ireland. New York, London [etc.] 
Oxford university press, 1931. xxiii, 186p. 
front., 95 pi. on 48 1. 4to. 

Plates 19, 23, 43, 50, 55, 61, 72, 80. 



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